SOUTHSEA Library is today set to open – but concerns have been raised over its £8,000-a-month rent agreement.
The Palmerston Road venue – set to be opened by best selling author Kate Mosse – will replace the library in Elm Grove.
But a decision by Portsmouth City Council to switch from being a landlord to a tenant in the move at a cost of £100,000 a year has been questioned.
City councillor Jim Fleming said: ‘It’s going to be a wonderful facility, there’s no doubt about it. It certainly was a poor business decision to move from owning a building where we had a library to move to somewhere else where we have to pay rent.
‘My view is had we invested the £1.5m in the library we already had we would be better off to the tune of almost £10,000 a month.
He added: ‘It’s not an additional library, it’s just moving it several yards down the road. We have moved from being the landlord to being the tenant.’
The former Woolworths store has been transformed into a state-of-the-art library, café and customer service centre.
It also boasts free computer and internet access, an IT learning zone and space for local community groups.
The customer service centre will give residents access to information and advice on council services including planning, council tax and waste management.
Southsea library has won backing from celebrities including best-selling cookery author Delia Smith and authors including Bill Bryson, Salman Rushdie and Andy McNab.
Portsmouth City Council said the deal it has thrashed out mean the council will not pay rent until October. A spokeswoman said: ‘We have got a 25-year lease on the building. We pay £100,000 a year so this year we will only pay six months’ rent.’